Monday, February 20, 2023

Dorney Park's 2024 New Coaster Gets Planning Commission Approval

© NewsPlusNotes
On Thursday night Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom received approval from the South Whitehall Township Planning Commission for its proposed "steel roller coaster" for 2024.  A look at the best-guess layout from the footing plans released can be seen up top, as we speculate that the coaster will be one of B&M's smaller Dive Machine rides.

Standing 162 feet tall, the new ride won approval to take up the space formerly used by the Stinger coaster, plus a little bit more.  We did some analysis on the plans in an early post, so we'll reference them here.  The park's General Manager, Jessica Naderman, pointed out during the meeting that the park is "not growing or expanding in any way" with the addition of the ride, and they are working with a "reputable ride manufacturer" for the new coaster.  The park is using "noise mitigation" to help make the ride quieter, and do not expect increased traffic or attendance levels as a result of the ride.  In fact, the General Manager pointed out that they hope to get back to pre-pandemic attendance levels soon, and this ride might help them do it.

© Dorney Park
As with so many South Whitehall Township planning meetings over the year, there was some contention with the commissioners, this time in the form of speaking about sidewalks and the park.  The Township requires sidewalks now (not in the past) and wanted to tie the coaster's approval to the park adding sidewalks along Route 222.  The mess that is pedestrians the Route 222 is a long, sad (there have been deaths) story and it's been not dealt with for far, far too long for a sidewalk to suddenly make things safe.  

And that's not really the park's fault, at least in my opinion.  The park is more than willing to help and put in sidewalks but smartly pointed out that the road in front of the park, the public bus stop, people crossing to hotels - all of it needs to be figured out correctly and done properly and SAFELY.  And they did say they'll put in a side walk as seen above, but they don't even own the land needed to do it, the PA Department of Transportation does.  

In the end the request to add sidewalks was "decoupled" from the coaster's approval, and the park will be required to work with the Township, PennDOT and others to move toward a solution.  They did note that in the past a bridge over the road, a tunnel under the road and more were considered and all shot down - not by the park but by PennDOT.

I believe the coaster still need the approval of the Board of Commissioners, but typically the tough part is the Planning Commission, so fingers crossed on the project!  The ride will also head to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission this week.  Until we hear more, here's our animation of what we think the coaster will be like one more time!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Silver Dollar City to Retire Fire In The Hole After 2023

© Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City has announced that the 2023 season will be the last for it classic dark ride roller coaster combo, named Fire In The Hole.  The parks names the attraction as the "world's most historic indoor roller coaster," having first opened in 1972 and thrilled generations of families since then.  To help celebrate the closing of the ride the park will hold special events for the ride throughout the season, parkwide fun and promotions all kicking off March 11th and running through December of 2023.

“More than 25 million guests have been entertained by the Fire In the Hole adventure since the attraction opened a half-century ago,” said Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions. “Today’s riders include grandparents who remember riding when THEY were kids, and now they share the fun and unique experience with THEIR grandkids!”

"The ride’s storyline is modeled after the real-life mining town, Marmaros, that was located atop Marvel Cave and home to residents of long-ago Ozarks. The attraction, novel in its introduction in 1972, has fire-brigade themed trains that twist, turn and drop into a burning town where riders are the volunteer firefighters, saving the citizens and battling the flames before getting soaked themselves."


© Silver Dollar City
The retirement of Fire In The Hole will be a loss for the park, but there is much to look forward to.  The park is planning on a period of "unprecedented growth" over the next ten years, and removing the ride will help pave the way for that.  The park isn't saying just what is coming yet, but leadership says they "are keenly aware that the iconic ride holds a place in the record books of attractions of the world, therefore, what comes next must carry on the legacy."


“This Grand Finale season of the original Fire In The Hole is paving the way for continued growth and new adventures at Silver Dollar City,” said Thomas. “There will be exciting announcements in the future!”

Friday, February 17, 2023

Sesame Place San Diego Expanding with Two New Attractions in 2023

© Sesame Place San Diego
Having just opened in March of 2022, Sesame Place San Diego is already on a path to growth with the announcement of two new attractions for the park's 2023 season.  The park has already made improvements and changes to the park since its opening, but these are the first two major expansions that guests will have to look forward to.

The biggest addition is The Count's Splash Castle, a massive multi-level water play structure that features a drenching good time with 111 interactive play elements on it.  The structure will have not one but two giant tipping buckets that dump over 1,300 gallons of water combined.  The structure will contain "three exciting water slides, plus soakers, flow pipes, hose jets, spray jets, water shooters, water curtains, tipping troughs, spinning and sliding buckets, and much more" for families to explore.  The addition will replace the park's former splash area and is more than double the size of the previous attraction. 


© Sesame Place San Diego
All the fun to be had on The Count's Splash Castle is sure to make families hungry and this year they can dine in the all-new Sunny Day Cafe, a brand new indoor and air conditioned 5,000 square foot location.  The establishment will serve buffet style offerings that will have something for everyone in the family.  There will be seating for up to 160 guests at each meal and the Sesame Street characters will join diners for "an immersive experience with singing, dancing and photo opportunities."   

Elsewhere in the park there will also be a brand new Big Bird's Beach Bites locations with snacks and beverages, to be located near Big Bird's Beach.  The park is also adding mobile ordering for select restaurants within the park.


“Going into the new year, we’re very excited to offer our guests and Season Pass Members more reasons to visit the park throughout the year.  Between our new attractions, increased dining options and 2023 event lineup that will be all-new to our guests, we look forward to an amazing year,” said Jim Lake, Sesame Place Park President. “We’re constantly adding new activities and events to enhance the guest experience. We’re increasing the number of opportunities to interact with their favorite characters and with the expansion of our dining options, plus our mobile ordering, our guests will be able to enjoy more convenience throughout their days at the park.”

Monday, February 13, 2023

Legoland New York Expanding in 2023 With New Water Playground

© Legoland
Legoland New York Resort is excited to open again in 2023 on March 31st, and is celebrating the 2023 season with a band new splashing-good-time addition.  The park will be adding a new water playground that is set to open on Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer.


"New York summers are hot – which is one of the reasons we're so excited to give families a place to cool off this year," said Legoland New York Resort Divisional Director Stephanie Johnson. "We have no doubt our Water Playground will become the heart of the Park this season with its four water slides and new creative building opportunities for kids. Everything we do is for the love of fun, and we're committed to building unforgettable offerings that will keep families coming back to our Resort again and again."


© Legoland New York
The new water playground will feature many activities to keep the whole family busy, from simply cooling off to being able to "build and race a Lego boat, splash on water slides and be doused by a giant 318-gallon water bucket.  A changing area will be nearby so guests can move on with their day, enjoying the Park's seven themed lands and can't-miss attractions."  These types of water funhouse structures are common in water park and dry parks across the globe, and will be a nice addition to Legoland New York's lineup.


Legoland New York's upcoming season is once again filled with special events and activities, including the brand new Ninjago Days in April and May, Red, White and Boom! during the Summer for July 4th, spooky Brick-or-Treat in the Fall and the Holiday Bricktacular in December.  Guests visiting the park can stay in the Legoland Hotel located right next door to the theme park as well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Legoland Florida Opens New Pirate River Quest Attraction

© Legoland Florida
Legoland Florida has opened their new family boat adventure, named Pirate River Quest, to eager visitors.  The attraction is very unique in that the park has utilized the existing canals that flow through the park's beautiful grounds to create a pirate themed journey through Cypress Gardens.  The adventure features many larger-than-life Lego creations along the way, with guests joining "a rowdy crew of Lego pirates on Captain’s orders to explore the murky waters and retrieve the lost treasure, stolen by a troop of mischievous monkeys."  It's always monkeys, isn't it?


© Legoland Florida
The canals that flow through Cypress Gardens (yes, the park before Legoland Florida was indeed called Cypress Gardens) were already gorgeous but now have the added quirky cuteness that comes with Lego characters and themes.  Above is one section of the journey where the boats are nearly attacked by some giant octopus tentacles.

© Legoland Florida
Legoland Florida has been on a continued expansion path over the last decade, with new rides and attractions consistently debuting for visitors.  In the competitive Florida market this is necessary, but the resort has also added new themed hotels and even the country's first Peppa Pig themed kids park.

You can see a video preview of some of the fun found on Pirate River Quest at this link in a promotional video from the park.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Taking a Deep Dive Into the 2024 Dorney Park Coaster Plans

© NewsPlusNotes
Now that I've had some time to really look into the plans that have appeared on South Whitehall Township's website regarding Dorney Park's plan for a new for 2024 attraction, let's really dig in.  My earlier post covered some details but there's more to uncover here, and as the image up top would suggest, we've even got an idea of a layout to show.


© Dorney Park
The park is seeking to add a new attraction that stands 161.67 feet tall, and is located over 2.7 acres generally where the former Stinger roller coaster was.  The above schematic shows the area when complete, but obviously this just includes station building and footings, so it doesn't look like much of a roller coaster here.  But it is.

© Dorney Park
Here is the area of the park that will be changed for the new roller coaster.  The plans refer to the 161.67 max height coming the "lift tower" and more importantly on the architect's drawing their internal network file path is listed and the drawings were saved as "titlesheet - coaster" in a 2019 "project" folder - so it also seems the original intention to build a coaster at the park never truly died, just changed over time and had to bake in the oven a bit longer.

© Dorney Park
This coaster project will see the removal of a few items in this section of the park - in yellow here.  That is two old picnic groves that have been storage areas for many years now, some old service road pavement, the Rita's stand that's near Possessed, and the three planters near Possessed.  Notably, the haunted house building, Flying Scooters and Possessed all will be staying - plus the Zephyr train ride looks to keep the exact same route (it was slightly rerouted in the 2020 ride plan).


© Dorney Park
The area directly South of the Cedar Creek Flyers will be the ride's station area, so there will be a lot of changes made here.  It looks like there will be a nice new plaza area that will have steps up (like 3 feet) to the entrance area.  From there it look like there's a long, regular queue that heads back where the two removed pavilions were, and a shorter queue for Fast Lane (all queue has a ton of shade structures designed in).  The exit looks like the normal stairs off a high station then down some ramps, and I have an "E" in there for the elevator up to the station as well.  The ride's track is in teal and you can see that the transfer tracks are just before the station, and will slide the trains South and into the storage shed... which actually sit directly over the Zephyr.  The ride's station is definitely going to be high off the ground, much like Talon and Steel Force.

One other thing that has me very interested, there are three areas (purple lines) along the queue where the drawings indicate "concrete pads for attraction theming."  Say what now?  No further indication on exactly what that means but I find it very encouraging and a bit mysterious for Dorney Park.

© Dorney Park
Moving East slightly the plans also detail a lot of other changes.  The plot of open space we've watched for years now is dotted with coaster footings, but we will get to that. In purple are more themed concrete pads - one circular one in the middle of Stinger field at what I believe is the base of the ride's first drop, and two along the existing walkway that will head to the coaster's station.  There will (in blue) be a nice new plaza created with wall seating that will also look up at the ride's first drop and also feature a very big inversion overhead.  The yellow existing planters will be removed to create more space as this part of the park is sure to be busier in 2024.  Finally, the area in red is a "propane tank pad" which I think is new, and if it is then it's probably for the Zephyr and relocated from the back of the park where the new coaster's queue will be located.

© Google / NewsPlusNotes
Here is a look at some of the changes in the same area.  Moving left to right - the planters in the area will get the axe, the one furthest to the right will be fully gone as two footings will be located in the spot remaining in this image.  The Rita's stand is also totally gone, and the border of Stinger Field will actually expand outward to include the concrete area with the dots on it.  The path past the old games building will lead to a widened plaza with a seating wall, and the existing walkway will have two new concrete pads built along the side of it.

© Dorney Park
Moving on to what you all came here for... the coaster.  Here is the work area with the footings marked in red.  It looks like a mess of red dots that make no sense to me, to be honest.  But the footings run a distance of about 730 feet from the to-be-removed planter near Rita's all the way back to undeveloped land that is just slightly Southwest of the haunted house and storage buildings.  At first my eyes saw a steel shuttle coaster of some type, potentially using a swing launch system to get through the layout.  But, I was very wrong.

© NewsPlusNotes
Thankfully a good friend who's really smart was able to look at these footers and make some sense out of it... and that sense turned into one of B&M's smaller Dive Machine coasters - the likes of which we just saw added last season as Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Emperor at Sea World San Diego.  You can compare the footings here to the previous to 'check the math' but it's pretty darn close, giving us a pretty darn high level of confidence here.  These smaller B&M Dive Machines feature cars that seat six or seven across, usually in three rows deep.

© NewsPlusNotes
Here is another view still locked into the park's existing landscape to give an idea of how everything fits in.  After the station the dive trains will head up the lift to 162 feet in the air, pause then drop.  It's uncommon for a B&M Dive Machine not to turn at the top of the lift hill, but it has been done before.  I would wager that the drop may be beyond vertical as Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger went to 95 degrees, why not beat that and take a record?

© NewsPlusNotes
After the drop (with the mystery theming element at the bottom) the coaster will head into a large Immelmann, with the edge of it sticking out into the current-but-will-be-removed planter.  The ride then will swoop up into a heartline roll that crosses near the station and takes trains toward the back of the ride.  The next element I never in a million years would have guessed (and yes I know others sites show this too, we did not copy them rather the footers simply only make sense for it) is an inclined loop.  The first vertical loop B&M did was on Yukon Striker at Canada's Wonderland in 2019, so titling it slightly at Dorney will make it the first of its kind element for a B&M Dive Machine.

 © Dorney Park

© Dorney Park
Our footer path then takes the trains up into a corkscrew, into a low level 180 degree turn and then up and into the final brake run.   All in this layout packs 4 inversions into 2,223 feet of track (in this render), plus the potentially beyond vertical drop.  Also of note, there are two more large sections (in purple) of concrete pads for theming in the final part of the layout, under the inclined loop and then also during the low to the ground final turn.  Very interested to see how those are used in the end.  


Current Midway View © Google

Similar View © NewsPlusNotes
We are excited to see how closely this render ends up to the real deal, but for now remember this is just a best guess based off the available plans.  While we're pretty confident in what's shown here there is no way to have all the details correct, which is a good thing.  Leaves some more fun for the future!

© NewsPlusNotes

The park's planned ride for 2021 was a shuttle wooden coaster, which was exciting for the park.  This however is a much larger project, both in scope and certainly in cost.  It has been since Hydra opened in 2005 that Dorney Park received a custom new coaster.  The part of the park it is going in badly needs to be pepped up, and this will definitely do that.  I have a feeling it might spur additional development down there in future years as well.  


Here is the point of view ride on the render created for this story:

The type of ride, a B&M Dive Machine, is also unique to the area.  It's getting very hard to find a ride that is not available between Hershey Park and Six Flags Great Adventure, so this is a smart move for the park.  There are a lot of opportunities for "biggest in," "steepest in," and "only in" type of marketing schemes for this ride - we all know there are bigger versions out there but Dorney is a regional park, not a national one, so no bother.

Personally I'm looking forward to knowing more about the ride's name, colors and potential 'theme' if the plans prove true.  Exciting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Dorney Park Seeking Approval For New Coaster-Looking Attraction (Again!)

© Dorney Park
Dorney Park is heading to the local planning commission on February 16th to seek permission for a new attraction to open in 2024.  As of now we only know the following, technically, because it was published on the planning commission's website:

So, it's a new attraction on the site of the former Stinger roller coaster, it stands 161.67 feet tall and is located on 2.7 acres of land.  If this all feels familiar to you, well it is, as a fun thing happened just as the pandemic set in in 2020 and ruined this ride's chance of ever seeing the light of day.


© Dorney Park
Anyway, back to current times - since planning meetings are open to the public documents related to the application are available for download which also lets us see just what the park has planned... mostly.  This one is much tougher to put together than the 2020 plan that came up, and definitely a different ride.

There is a lot to go through, and more details to uncover, and I haven't had the time to really, really dig in yet, but looking at the ride's - well we can say coaster for sure - layout from footings we can get an idea that this is definitely a 162 foot tall coaster that resembles .... 

... some other coasters out there that'd you be sure to dive over people to get in line for, if you catch my drift.  Like I said, there's a lot more putting things together but here's a first take at what I think I'm seeing based on footer locations.  The image can speak for itself, for now.

The ride will feature a pretty large queue that replaces some old buildings in that part of the park, a nice viewing plaza for what I imagine is a very steep first drop and a big inversion, and oddly, the removal of a Rita's Italian Ice stand for... grass.  Oh, and it looks like Possessed gets to stay, thanks again Wicked Twister!

More to come on this one, but one thing I will say for sure:  how exciting and a very long time coming for Dorney Park!